Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Picture: Crooke (left) talking during the panel. Esfandiari is to the right.
WASHINGTON – WOODROW WILSON CENTER: Former British intelligence officer Alastair Crooke said “the West used Saudi Salafism to contain Nasserism, Marxism… to contain the Soviets… used it in Iraq against Iran and in Lebanon, all with the support of the United States and Europe.”
Crooke did not provide any evidence to support his hypothesis. Past statements, however, suggest that the former MI6 operative often bases his arguments on what he is often told. “I was told that … [radical Islamist groups] were being offered weapons and money by people presenting themselves as representatives of the Lebanese government's interests—presumably to take on Hezbollah,” Crooke was quoted in a Seymour Hersh article published in The New Yorker in March 2007.
Be it as it may, Crooke is not opposed to all forms of radical Islam for he praises the Iranian regime. “Islamic Revolution (of Iran) is about thinking… why does the West think of it as a confrontation with violent and dogmatic groups?” Crooke said at Woodrow Wilson.
Crooke’s description of Iran’s regime as moderate came while sitting next to moderator Haleh Esfandiari, an Iranian-American who was arrested in Tehran between May and August 2007 while on a trip to visit her 93-year old mother. The Iranian authorities accused Esfandiari, at the time, of espionage.
Crooke is a resident of Beirut where he has established strong ties with several senior operatives from Hezbollah, an Iranian-funded and inspired militant group.
Read full story in Arabic here